Working Through Dorm Room Woes in a Pandemic

By Ana Carolina Aguiar

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many noticeable differences to the way society functions. These differences followed students onto Barry University’s campus, with safety regulations like wearing a mask, social distancing, and caution upon outdoor ventures becoming required acts in the dormitories. 

In addition to the new rules, many students have struggled with getting on the same page as their roommates and dormmates when it comes to dealing with a global pandemic. 

Photo of Barry Students Student Courtney Chisholm and Ayana Andrade-Zygmunt by Jimmy Muniz

Although most classes are being taught virtually, there are currently 853 students in on-campus housing as compared to the Fall 2019 number of 1,289 students, many of whom have roommates who go out with people they may not know. 

This could put students at risk of being contaminated by their roommates, in addition to other dorm inhabitants who share common spaces such as the laundry room, the study lounges, and the elevators.

Sharing common spaces is something that junior marketing major Veronica Ospina expresses concerns about. In Kolasa Hall, she says she sees people who do not wear masks or who wear them incorrectly. This makes a simple chore, like laundry, scary due to the small space that residents of the four-floor building must share.

Another small space that concerns Ospina are the elevators in her hall. 

“The elevators are also scary to take because of the closed space and the fact that I have seen people come out of them without a mask,” said Ospina. 

Photo Credit to The News & Observer

Concerns such as these are met with changes made to housing life since the pandemic began, as the Director of Housing and Residence Life, Matthew Cameron, explains. 

One of the major changes is that guests are prohibited from entering a resident’s assigned room. This alteration aims to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by keeping only those residents assigned to a certain unit in the space. 

However, as of Sept. 21, students are permitted one guest from the residential community in their room. This change came just days before Miami-Dade and Broward officials relaxed Coronavirus restrictions in their counties in accordance with the decision of Gov. Ron DeSantis to move to Phase 3 of reopening, according to NBC Miami.

Non-Barry guests are still prohibited in the residence halls. 

Despite these guest policies, Ospina expressed doubt that people are following these rules, because she can hear people entering and leaving the room neighboring her own each night. 

 “Just the other day, a girl at the end of the hall had a party broken up at 2 a.m. on a school night,” said Ospina.

In addition to the alteration of guest policies, lounges in residence halls have been reconfigured to be used as temporary computer labs. This limits the need for resident students to use the computers at the on-campus library, and attempts to keep students contained within their units.